Officer, neighbor save dog from fire

Officer, neighbor save dog from fireBy BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

The black smoke from a Saturday house fire on took on a silver lining when a Ridgecrest Police Department Reserve Officer and a good neighbor rescued an unresponsive dog from the flames. While the mobile home was a total loss, no one was injured and Max the dog – the sole occupant at the time of the fire – made a full recovery.

According to an RPD press release Officers and firefighters from Kern County and China Lake Fire Departments responded to the fire on the 700 block of West Bennett Avenue just after 11 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 8.

“I was patrolling on the South end of town when I got the call,” said Reserve Officer Micah Lloyd. “I sped over there when I heard the structure was fully engulfed, then I got an update that someone was trapped inside. And about 30 seconds later I hear that there may be multiple people trapped, which obviously ups the level of stress.”

“When I arrived I noticed the fire hadn’t reached the back of the mobile yet. I thought if I could kick open the back door, maybe they were already back there and could get out.”

Lloyd said he attempted to kick in the door, but because of the flexible trailer walls, the door was difficult to kick in.

It was at that point Lloyd was joined by the neighbor from a parallel street, Jorge Toral and his friend Ted Olson.

“It all happened pretty quick,” said Toral. “I had some buddies over and one of them came in and said ‘you’re house is on fire!’ Turns out, it was the house across the street. I heard there could be someone in there so we just tore through their back fence toward the house. I figured we could worry about those consequences later.”

Toral joined Lloyd where they were able to break the door down. Lloyd, followed by Toral and Sgt. Bill Groves then felt his way around inside what he said seemed like a laundry room.

“I touched something and I quickly realized it must have been a large animal,” said Lloyd. “We were able to drag it out, but by that time the smoke was so thick there was no chance we could get back in.”

Toral said he and his friends saw to the dog, giving it water and rubbing it until it came to a few minutes later.

“Ten minutes later he was walking around like nothing happened,” said Toral.

At that point, the residents had been contacted and friends and neighbors confirmed that no one else had been home.

As a level-1 reserve officer, Lloyd has virtually all the responsibilities of a full-time sworn officer, but works as a volunteer for the department. He spends the rest of his time doing Information Technology work on base, but says he probably volunteers almost as many hours with the RPD as his full-time job.

“I’m glad I was where I was when it happened, and I’m just thankful to serve my community,” he said. “It’s actually a really awesome job. I love what I do.”

“I’ve been here my whole life and this was just one of those times – not a good time – but one of those times I was just around the corner and able to help,” said Toral. “I have a dog and a family. I would just home, God forbid, that if this ever happened to my home, someone would be willing to help.”

Many of the neighbors tried to help save the structure according to Lloyd, but the RPD reminds the public that structure fires are extremely dangerous and without the proper training and equipment available to first responders – would-be rescuers can end up as victims themselves.

“The Ridgecrest Police Department would like to thank Ted Olson, Jorge Toral and the other members of the community that assisted in this incident … but more often than not the best thing to do is to stay a safe distance from the scene,” said the release.

The cause of the fire is reportedly still under investigation.

Details will be reported as they become available.

Pictured: Reserve Officer Micah Lloyd and the rescued dog, Max — Courtesy photo

Story First Published: 2018-09-14